Vancouver Island man’s fingertips ‘blown off’ by mail bomb

A Port Alice man suffered serious injuries after a mail bomb exploded in his hands, in what the RCMP say was a targeted incident.

The victim, identified as Roger Nepper, a retiree in his 60s, was taken to hospital.

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Nepper’s wife, Shirley Bowick, told CHEK News that the package exploded on Tuesday when her husband opened it in their Clark Drive home.

“He picked up the package and he comes home, I’m right beside him and he opened it up and it’s a bomb,” she told CHEK. “His fingertips were basically blown off.”

RCMP officers from Port Hardy and Campbell River, the RCMP explosive disposal unit, an RCMP explosives dog, forensic identification officers and general investigators are trying to determine who sent the package. A bomb detecting robot was brought from Vancouver.

The couple’s home on Clark Drive, as well as the post office and the Scotiabank branch, were cordoned off after the explosion. The post office and the home were inspected by a bomb squad Wednesday.

Two homes on either side of the residence were evacuated as a precaution while officers in heavy protective suits went in and out of the home.

Nepper is in his 60s and retired after a long career at the pulp mill, said friend and local councillor Bruce Lloyd.

Nepper was an accomplished boxer in his younger days and taught boxing after he moved to Port Alice, Lloyd said.

Lloyd described his friend as a “character.”

Lloyd was told there was a second explosion after Nepper opened the package, leaving him to speculate the bomb did not go off with its full force after it was opened.

“I wish him the best. Thank goodness no one else was hurt,” Lloyd said, noting that the package passed through many hands on its route to Port Alice.

“Postal workers won’t ever be the same,” he said.

Port Alice has the second-lowest crime rate in B.C., and Lloyd said this incident feels like a violation.

“This is a town where people move to to get away from crime,” Lloyd said.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Port Alice Mayor Jan Allen, who is in Whistler at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference and had been briefed on the incident.

Allen said she has lived in Port Alice for 37 years and believe Nepper and Bowick have been in the community for just as long.

“Once the RCMP does a thorough investigation we will have some answers to everyone’s questions,” she said.

Canada Post is assisting with the investigation, but a spokesperson for Canada Post referred all questions to the RCMP.

Anyone with information is asked to call Port Hardy RCMP at 250-949-6335 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

© Virden Empire-Advance

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